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Turkish talk of reconciliation angers Armenians on 106th anniversary of genocide

Turkey has warned the United States that President Joe Biden's expected characterization of the mass killings of the Ottoman Armenians in 1915 as a genocide will derail Turkish-Armenian reconciliation and further damage US-Turkish ties. Armenians say there is no reconciliation process to speak of.
Catholicos Garegin II, the head of the Armenian Apostolic Church, attends a ceremony commemorating the 105th anniversary of the massacre of 1.5 million of Armenians by Ottoman forces in 1915, at the Tsitsernakaberd memorial in Yerevan on April 24, 2020.

Their love blossomed in the heady days when reconciliation between Turks and Armenians seemed within reach. Ihsan Karayazi, a Turk, first set eyes on Armine Avetisyan, an Armenian, in the eastern Turkish city of Kars in April 2006 — in a police station. She had been spotted photographing a military building, not knowing that she would land herself in trouble. Naif Alibeyoglu, then the mayor of Kars, swiftly intervened. His dreams of transforming the far-flung outpost on the Armenian border, eulogized in Orhan Pamuk’s mesmerizing novel "Snow," into a regional hub of economic and cultural activity in the Caucasus was not to be jeopardized. Alibeyoglu dispatched Karayazi, who was his aide at the time, to disentangle Avetisyan from the clutches of the police. Karayazi, 38, and Avetisyan, 40, are happily married.

What if the same events had played out today? Avetisyan might be in jail, Alibeyoglu potentially fired over his overtures to Armenians, and “there would be absolutely no question of our getting married,” said Karayazi, who now lives in Boston, where he works as a cultural entrepreneur and Avetisyan as a project manager at Brandeis University. “I could never go to Armenia and feel as welcome as I did then, and nor would Armine and I be able to settle in Turkey. The paradigm has shifted, our hearts are broken,” he told Al-Monitor.

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